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						McLaren M8 F Replica A8
Seven-Year Itch

Seven Year Itch

Story and Photos By Steve Temple

Brett Ryan has a thing for the highly successful McLaren race cars, the M8F in particular, partly because designer/engineer Bruce McLaren was a fellow New Zealander from his hometown. Brett also spent a lot of time at the McLaren museum, along with a McLaren restoration expert. That connection led him to a seven-year project, a custom build of a tribute car. He started out by taking detailed measurements from an authentic 1971 McLaren M8F to create the frame and body.

From there, the process was a proven approach that’s been used for decades. Not real high tech, but it works. While he had the overall dimensions of the original McLaren’s aluminum tub, Brett fabricated his own design out of 2-inch, mild steel tubing so the car could be driven on both the track and street. He started by laying the Chevy engine and Porsche 930 transaxle on a large aluminum table. He then designed and built a frame around them.

Since he didn’t have a tube notcher, “I’d cut the tubing too long, and then fit it with a grinding wheel and MIG welder,” he explains. The A-arm suspension was constructed in a similar manner from scratch, using Heim joints and Corvette C5 spindles/hubs. The steering rack is from a Porsche 911, the pedals from an Indy race car, and coilover double adjustable shocks from Alden Eagle.

Once the tubular frame was completed, Brent then skinned it with aluminum. He also worked up a custom dash and added safety equipment such as five-point harnesses and a fire suppression system. 

Both the front and rear body clips pivot forward and rearward on a pin mounting system, and the doors open out, allowing easy access to the frame for maintenance. The total weight is just 2,000 pounds, and with a 425 hp Chevy 350, the car has an excellent power-weight ratio. But Brent plans to push that proportion even further with a 600 hp engine. Some projects are just never done.

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